Brazil’s Deforestation Rate Hits a Decade High
Brazil released its annual deforestation report last Friday, detailing the worst rate of deforestation in a decade.
From August of 2017 to July of 2018, approximately 7,900 square kilometers were cleared from the Amazon rainforest, an area of nearly one million football fields. This marks a 13.7 percent jump over last year, and is also the largest area cleared from the forest since 2008.
From 2005 to 2011, there was a trend of decreasing deforestation due to government protections. During those six years, there was a 70 percent decrease in the deforestation rate, but new leadership in the government may further undo that progress.
Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s President-elect, has promised to open more of the Amazon to development. A self-admitted anti-environmentalist, Bolsonaro has received criticism from environmental activists.
In recent years, infrastructural and agricultural projects have been the key drivers of deforestation, including the development of roads, cattle ranching, and soy plantations. These development projects have affected a variety of species that live in the forest, as the region is home to one in 10 of the known species on Earth. Further, approximately one million indigenous people live in the rainforest, comprising hundreds of tribes.
The Indigenous people who live in the rainforest have called for government protections to preserve wildlife, indigenous habitats, and climate stability. The plan calls for a protected area of 200 million hectares, which would be the largest in the world.
Jair Bolsonaro is set to take office in January of 2019, and has so far stuck to his stance of anti-environmentalism.